Attendance Management

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2014 National Delegate Conference
21 February 2014

Conference is concerned that in the 21st Century some employers are still using draconian sickness absence polices, such as the Bradford Factor, which we know can discriminate against disabled workers.

Absence from work due to a disability should be recorded separately and treated differently to non-disability related sickness absence with a separate policy explaining the procedure. Disability Leave Policies protect disabled employees from the discrimination that can arise if disability related absence is treated as sick leave.

At a time of widespread redundancies and cuts disabled people can be at a disadvantage if their employer doesn’t have a disability leave policy and they are selected for redundancy due to sickness absence procedures that do not take account of disability-related absence.

Employers do not have to continue to pay sick pay if a disabled employee has exhausted their entitlement but is unable to return to work for a disability related reason. This can lead to disabled employees feeling pressured to take ill-health or early retirement due to continued sickness absence even if they may have been able to continue to work if reasonable adjustments were implemented.

Conference notes that under the Equality Act 2010 employers are obliged employers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. Although there is no framework or definition of what is a reasonable adjustment disability leave could be classed as a reasonable adjustment. Although employers do not legally have to have a disability leave policy it is good practice and could reduce the risk of legal challenge for failing to make reasonable adjustments.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to work with National Disabled Members Committee, Service Groups and Labour Link to:

1)Campaign for an end to the use of potentially discriminatory attendance management policies;

2)Promote, with branches and regions, UNISON’s model Disability Leave Policy and encourage employers seek to adopt it.